Mets GM Omar Minaya feeling hot-stove heat
Roy Halladay is headed to the rival Phillies. John Lackey is off the market. Chone Figgins and Randy Wolf signed elsewhere.
It's been a cold December for general manager Omar Minaya and the New York Mets.
Coming off a dismal debut in their spacious new ballpark, the Mets are still trying to make a hot-stove splash this offseason - and Minaya is beginning to feel the heat.
``So far, the timing of the deals have not been there,'' Minaya said Tuesday at the team's holiday party for kids. ``I feel comfortable that when we get to opening day our team will be better than it was last year.''
The Mets were razzed on the back pages of both city tabloids for missing out on Halladay and Lackey, two of baseball's best pitchers.
Lackey and the Boston Red Sox are in the process of completing a five-year contract worth $80 million to $87.5 million. Philadelphia has a tentative agreement to acquire Halladay in a trade with Toronto, which could make it even tougher for New York to catch its NL East nemesis.
The Phillies have won two consecutive pennants and three straight division titles, overtaking the collapsing Mets down the stretch in 2007 and 2008. A slew of key injuries doomed New York to a 70-92 finish this year, and the club has holes to fill at catcher, left field and perhaps first base - not to mention on the mound.
``Just because you didn't trade at the winter meetings or right after, it doesn't mean that the offseason's over,'' said right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who dressed up as Santa for school children at Citi Field. ``Our team's not one player away. We need three or four different pieces to make this a playoff team and I think that's what they're doing.
``I think we're more suited to getting three or four good players than one big guy,'' he added. ``By spring training, we'll have it all in place.''
The Mets made a contract offer to free-agent catcher Bengie Molina on the final day of the winter meetings last week. They also bid between $60 million and $65 million over four years for free-agent left fielder Jason Bay, but those negotiations are expected to take a while.
``You've got to be careful having too many offers out there,'' Minaya said.
Minaya said he spoke with Lackey's agent Friday and expected to talk again Tuesday, but news broke Monday that the free-agent right-hander had an agreement in place with Boston.
``Sometimes things happen quickly,'' Minaya said. ``I just think that he got a deal that he felt was a good deal.''
The GM also said he offered a trade for Halladay, but the Blue Jays turned it down.
``They felt they had other options that were better than ours. That's what it came down to,'' Minaya said. ``There's still some pitchers out there.''
Joel Pineiro, Jon Garland and Kelvim Escobar are free-agent starters New York could still pursue.
Carlos Delgado, who missed most of last season following hip surgery, could be brought back to play first base if he shows he's healthy in winter ball.
``When you lose the number of games that we lost, you've got to look at upgrades in all areas,'' Minaya said. ``We still have time to go. ... I feel very comfortable if we get our guys, we're going to have a very good team.''
NOTES: Speedy SS Jose Reyes, who played one of Santa's elves, said rehabilitation is going well following October surgery on his injured right leg. Reyes, who didn't play after May 20 last season, acknowledged he probably tried to come back too soon from the original injury but said he never was pressured by the Mets. He said the pain he felt is gone but his legs still feel a little weak. He's rebuilding strength and power, and doctors told him he should be 100 percent by spring training.